Book V

Such was the conclusion of that day. On the following day the generals summoned an assembly of the soldiers, when it was resolved to invite the men of Sinope, and to take advice with them touching the remainder of the journey. In the event of their having to continue it on foot, the Sinopeans through their acquaintance with Paphlagonia would be useful to them; while, if they had to go by sea, the services of the same people would be at a premium; for who but they could furnish ships sufficient for the army? Accordingly, they summoned their ambassadors, and took counsel with them, begging them, on the strength of the sacred ties which bind Hellenes to Hellenes, to inaugurate the good reception they had spoken of, by present kindliness and their best advice.

Hecatonymus rose and wished at once to offer an apology with regard to what he had said about the possibility of making friends with the Paphlagonians. "The words were not intended," he said, "to convey a threat, as though they were minded to go to war with the Hellenes, but as meaning rather: albeit we have it in our power to be friendly with the barbarians, we will choose the Hellenes." Then, being urged to aid them by some advice, with a pious ejaculation, he commenced: "If I bestow upon you the best counsel I am able, God grant that blessings in abundance may descend on me; but if the contrary, may evil betide me! 'Sacred counsel[1],' as the saying goes--well, sirs, if ever the saying held, it should hold I think to-day; when, if I be proved to have given you good counsel, I shall not lack panegyrists, or if evil, your imprecations will be many-tongued.

[1] Cf. Plato, "Theages," 122.

"As to trouble, I am quite aware, we shall have much more trouble if you are conveyed by sea, for we must provide the vessels; whereas, if you go by land, all the fighting will evolve on you. Still, let come what may, it behoves me to state my views. I have an intimate acquaintance with the country of the Paphlagonians and their power. The country possesses the two features of hill and vale, that is to say, the fairest plains and the highest mountains. To begin with the mountains, I know the exact point at which you must make your entry. It is precisely where the horns of a mountain tower over both sides of the road. Let the merest handful of men occupy these and they can hold the pass with ease; for when that is done not all the enemies in the world could effect a passage. I could point out the whole with my finger, if you like to send any one with me to the scene.

"So much for the mountain barrier. But the next thing I know is that there are plains and a cavalry which the barbarians themselves hold to be superior to the entire cavalry of the great king. Why, only the other day these people refused to present themselves to the summons of the king; their chief is too proud for that.

"But now, supposing you were able to seize the mountain barrier, by stealth, or expedition, before the enemy could stop you; supposing further, you were able to win an engagement in the plain against not only their cavalry but their more than one hundred and twenty thousand infantry--you will only find yourself face to face with rivers, a series of them. First the Thermodon, three hundred feet broad, which I take it will be difficult to pass, especially with a host of foes in front and another following behind. Next comes the Iris river, three hundred feet broad; and thirdly, the Halys, at least two furlongs broad, which you could not possibly cross without vessels, and who is going to supply you with vessels? In the same way too the Parthenius is impassable, which you will reach if you cross the Halys. For my part, then, I consider the land-journey, I will not say difficult, but absolutely impossible for you. Whereas if you go by sea, you can coast along from here to Sinope, and from Sinope to Heraclea. From Heraclea onwards there is no difficulty, whether by land or by sea; for there are plenty of vessels at Heraclea."

After he had finished his remarks, some of his hearers thought they detected a certain bias in them. He would not have spoken so, but for his friendship with Corylas, whose official representative he was. Others guessed he had an itching palm, and that he was hoping to receive a present for his "sacred advice." Others again suspected that his object was to prevent their going by foot and doing some mischief to the country of the Sinopeans. However that might be, the Hellenes voted in favour of continuing the journey by sea. After this Xenophon said: "Sinopeans, the army has chosen that method of procedure which you advise, and thus the matter stands. If there are sure to be vessels enough to make it impossible for a single man to be left behind, go by sea we will; but if part of us are to be left while part go by sea, we will not set foot on board the vessels. One fact we plainly recognise, strength is everything to us. So long as we have the mastery, we shall be able to protect ourselves and get provisions; but if we are once caught at the mercy of our foes, it is plain, we shall be reduced to slavery." On hearing this the ambassadors bade them send an embassy, which they did, to wit, Callimachus the Arcadian, and Ariston the Athenian, and Samolas the Achaean.

So these set off, but meanwhile a thought shaped itself in the mind of Xenophon, as there before his eyes lay that vast army of Hellene hoplites, and that other array of peltasts, archers, and slingers, with cavalry to boot, and all in a state of thorough efficiency from long practice, hardened veterans, and all collected in Pontus, where to raise so large a force would cost a mint of money. Then the idea dawned upon him: how noble an opportunity to acquire new territory and power for Hellas, by the founding of a colony--a city of no mean size, moreover, said he to himself, as he reckoned up their own numbers--and besides themselves a population planted on the shores of Pontus. Threupon he summoned Silanus the Ambraciot, the soothsayer of Cyrus above mentioned, and before breathing a syllable to any of the soldiers, he consulted the victims by sacrifice.

But Silanus, in apprehension lest these ideas might embody themselves, and the army be permanently halted at some point or other, set a tale going among the men, to the effect that Xenophon was minded to detain the army and found a city in order to win himself a name and acquire power, Silanus himself being minded to reach Hellas with all possible speed, for the simple reason that he had still got the three thousand darics presented to him by Cyrus on the occasion of the sacrifice when he hit the truth so happily about the ten days. Silanus's story was variously received, some few of the soldiers thinking it would be an excellent thing to stay in that country; but the majority were strongly averse. The next incident was that Timasion the Dardanian, with Thorax the Boeotian, addressed themselves to some Heracleot and Sinopean traders who had come to Cotyora, and told them that if they did not find means to furnish the army with pay sufficient to keep them in provisions on the homeward voyage, all that great force would most likely settle down permanently in Pontus. "Xenophon has a pet idea," they continued, "which he urges upon us. We are to wait until the ships come, and then we are suddenly to turn round to the army and say: 'Soldiers, we now see the straits we are in, unable to keep ourselves in provisions on the return voyage, or to make our friends at home a little present at the end of our journey. But if you like to select some place on the inhabited seaboard of the Black Sea which may take your fancy and there put in, this is open to you to do. Those who like to go home, go; those who care to stay here, stay. You have got vessels now, so that you can make a sudden pounce upon any point you choose.'"

The merchants went off with this tale and reported it to every city they came to in turn, nor did they go alone, but Timasion the Dardanian sent a fellow-citizen of his own, Eurymachus, with the Boeotian Thorax, to repeat the same story. So when it reached the ears of the men of Sinope and the Heracleots, they sent to Timasion and pressed him to accept of a gratuity, in return for which he was to arrange for the departure of the troops. Timasion was only too glad to hear this, and he took the opportunity when the soldiers were convened in meeting to make the following remarks: "Soldiers," he said, "do not set your thoughts on staying here; let Hellas, and Hellas only, be the object of your affection, for I am told that certain persons have been sacrificing on this very question, without saying a word to you. Now I can promise you, if you once leave these waters, to furnish you with regular monthly pay, dating from the first of the month, at the rate of one cyzicene[2] a head per month. I will bring you to the Troad, from which part I am an exile, and my own state is at your service. They will receive me with open arms. I will be your guide personally, and I will take you to plces where you will get plenty of money. I know every corner of the Aeolid, and Phrygia, and the Troad, and indeed the whole satrapy of Pharnabazus, partly because it is my birthplace, partly from campaigns in that region with Clearchus and Dercylidas[3]."

[2] A cyzicene stater = twenty-eight silver drachmae of Attic money B.C. 335, in the time of Demosthenes; but, like the daric, this gold coin would fluctuate in value relatively to silver. It contained more grains of gold than the daric.

[3] Of Dercylidas we hear more in the "Hellenica." In B.C. 411 he was harmost at Abydos; in B.C. 399 he superseded Thimbron in Asia Minor; and was himself superseded by Agesilaus in B.C. 396.

No sooner had he ceased than up got Thorax the Boeotian. This was a man who had a standing battle with Xenophon about the generalship of the army. What he said was that, if they once got fairly out of the Euxine, there was the Chersonese, a beautiful and prosperous country, where they could settle or not, as they chose. Those who liked could stay; and those who liked could return to their homes; how ridiculous then, when there was so much territory in Hellas and to spare, to be poking about[4] in the land of the barbarian. "But until you find yourselves there," he added, "I, no less than Timasion, can guarantee you regular pay." This he said, knowing what promises had been made Timasion by the men of Heraclea and Sinope to induce them to set sail.

[4] The word {masteuein} occurs above, and again below, and in other writings of our author. It is probably Ionic or old Attic, and occurs in poetry.

Meanwhile Xenophon held his peace. Then up got Philesius and Lycon, two Achaeans: "It was monstrous," they said, "that Xenophon should be privately persuading people to stop there, and consulting the victims for that end, without letting the army into the secret, or breathing a syllable in public about the matter." When it came to this, Xenophon was forced to get up, and speak as follows: "Sirs, you are well aware that my habit is to sacrifice at all times; whether in your own behalf or my own, I strive in every thought, word, and deed to be directed as is best for yourselves and for me. And in the present instance my sole object was to learn whether it were better even so much as to broach the subject, and so take action, or to have absolutely nothing to do with the project. Now Silanus the soothsayer assured me by his answer of what was the main point: 'the victims were favourable.' No doubt Silanus knew that I was not unversed myself in his lore, as I have so often assisted at the sacrifice; but he added that there were symptoms in the victims of some guile or conspiracy against me. That was a happy discovery on his part, seeing that he was himself conspiring at the moment to traduce me before you; since it was he who set the tale going that I had actually made up my mind to carry out these projects without procuring your consent. Now, for my part, if I saw that you were in any difficulties, I should set myself to discover how you might capture a city, on the understanding of course that all who wished might sail away at once, leaving those who did not wish, to follow at a later date, with something perhaps in their pockets to benefit their friends at home. Now, however, as I see that the men of Heraclea and Sinope are to send you ships to assist you to sail away, and more than one person guarantees to give you regular monthly pay, it is, I admit, a rare chance to be safely piloted to the haven of our hopes, and at the same time to receive pay for our preservation. For myself I have done with that dream, and to those, who came to me to urge these projects, my advice is to have done with them. In fact, this is my view. As long as you stay together united as to-day, you will command respect and procure provisions; for might certainly exercises a right over what belongs to the weaker. But once broken up, with your force split into bits, you will neither be able to get subsistence, nor indeed will you get off without paying dearly for it. In fact, my resolution coincides precisely with yours. It is that we should set off for Hellas, and if any one stops behind, or is caught deserting before the whole army is in safety, let him be judged as an evil-doer. Pray let all who are in favour of this proposition hold up their hands."

They all held them up; only Silanus began shouting and vainly striving to maintain the right of departure for all who liked to depart. But the soldiers would not suffer him, threatening him that if he were himself caught attempting to run away they would inflict the aforesaid penalty. After this, when the Heracleots learned that the departure by sea was resolved upon, and that the measure itself emanated from Xenophon, they sent the vessels indeed; but as to the money which they had promised to Timasion and Thorax as pay for the soldiers, they were not as good as their word, in fact they cheated them both. Thus the two who had guaranteed regular monthly pay were utterly confounded, and stood in terror of the soldiers. What they did then, was to take to them the other generals to whom they had communicated their former transactions (that is to say, all except Neon the Asniaean, who, as lieutenant-general, was acting for Cheirisophus during his continued absence). This done they came in a body to Xenophon and said that their views were changed. As they had now got the ships, they thought it best to sail to the Phasis, and seize the territory of the Phasians (whose present king was a descendant of Aeetes[5]). Xenophon's reply was curt:--Not one syllable would he have to say himself to the army in this matter, "But," he added, "if you like, you can summon an assembly and have your say." Thereupon Timasion the Dardanian set forth as his opinion:--It were best to hold no parliament at present, but first to go and conciliate, each of them, his own officers. Thus they went away and proceeded to execute their plans.

[5] Aeetes is the patronym of the kings of Colchis from mythical times onwards; e.g. Medea was the daughter of Aeetes.